Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Falluja Fake ISIS Document: Massacre Pre-Marketing in Iraq?

Falluja Fake ISIS Document: Massacre Pre-Marketing in Iraq?
December 26, 2015

Yeah, it's Fake ...
There's been some talk lately about the supposed Deash (Islamic State) pamphlets circulating in Falluja, ordering their members to frame Iraqi forces for gross crimes when they flee the city. In my opinion, it's mainly been stupid talk, and there's a sick underside to this development people aren't getting.

The document (shown here, original and translated, from Col. Warren tweet) was revealed on December 22. It has a bad translation ("holly fighters," etc.) but the content isn't disputed. By this, the order instructs fighters to dress up and act like Iraqi armed forces members and then: blow up mosques and houses, and shelters full of civilians, shoot people with rooftop snipers, torture and massacre captive civilians, assault women, loot houses, film as much of this as possible, and send the videos to Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya to air as crimes of the Shia-majority fighters.

The first media reports crediting that claim were reasonably duped (example: The Hill 12/22). After all, the idea makes sense, and the first stupid talk was from credible members of the U.S. military, whose spokesman Col. Steven H. Warren claiming it was a "believable" "formal order" of ISIL (as he calls them). That was based on the stamp and its sinister attitude, and maybe on whatever information it was handed it with (like how someone else got a copy of what clearly should be a secret plan).

Then came smart but limited analysis like Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, who alerted Warren on Twitter that the doc seems fake (many others followed suit). His reasons: it uses paper with the letterhead for Ninawa (Nineveh) province, while Falluja is in Anbar province, and it refers to the Iraqi militia with its proper name "Hashd Sha'abi" instead of a Daesh slur like "Hashd Rafidi." Further, it claims a decision was already made to leave Falluja soon, when there seems to be no sign of that (and it's now been several days further).

Soon, there was debatable dispute about the authenticity of the orders. "B" at Moon of Alabama (a brilliant researcher with a lot of good finds) was on this the first day, citing Tamimi and another experts doubting the evidence. In an update, "b" noted the media shift - with an unacknowledged insertion at the New York Times:
The NYT first repeated the military propaganda of the fake leaflet without any doubt or checking of its authenticity. It now says that there is a "debate" about the genuineness of the document. There is no "debate". The experts all say that the document is fake.
There is a sort of debate between the credibility of those lodging the claim and the opinion of experts. And clearly, the call of fake is winning that fight in the public mind, which is what matters.

For the record, I'm not totally convinced by this (is the Daesh directorate for false-flag operations in Nineveh? Would they use the militia's proper name sarcastically? Might they goof it up on purpose? Etc.) But these do seem good reasons to call forgery, and I'll take that as the clearest reading and presume it is a fake. My standing questions regard who and why.

... But it Could be a Real Preview
Laughing off the fake serves to ridicule the idea of a false-flag massacre at a time we should take the threat seriously. For terrorists of the Daesh grade of evil losing a key city, this is an expected behavior. They commit victory massacres on conquest of new cities, blamed on fleeing loyalists (see Comparing Terrorist Victory Massacres for Daesh ones compared to those of the Idlib "Army of Conquest"). The pattern on the losing end as they flee is less clear, and probably less common. However, it does happen...

Long before ISIS appeared, even the previous "moderate" Islamists fighting in Syria gave us a nice example in Daraya, near Damascus, in late August, 2012. Rebels had taken over the city and controlled it until an army offensive at this time forced them out. Along they way in, rebels and "activists" claim, Syrian army forces and "Shabiha" militias killed hundreds of civilians, perhaps over 1,000.

Men killed and filmed by rebels in Daraya, 2012
But credible reports (Robert Fisk, among others) say local rebels had seized hundreds of hostages by then. Many more were kidnapped at the last minute and forced into basement "shelters." It's believed rebels executed many these after talks broke down and before they fled. (see ACLOS page for more details). Some were killed or dumped in the city's central cemetery; one local told Robert Fisk "he believed that most were related to the government army and included several off-duty conscripts. "One of the dead was a postman – they included him because he was a government worker," the man said."

To support their story, rebels showed videos of gender-segregated people executed in basements. They showed a large batch of dead men, (civilian, fighters, or a mix, unclear) "found" murdered inside a mosque that rebels were using as a base, after they clearly brought the bodies there on blankets.

The Western world of course bought the rebel version as "“an atrocity of a new scale" by the "Assad regime."

This is just the kind of thing we might expect to see in Falluja and other areas held by Daesh, in Iraq and Syria, as they loose their grip there. Consider their reported threat recently to kill anyone who tried to flee nearby Ramadi. The state and Shia militias for their part want all civilians out before they really attack, but Daesh wants the people there, as human shields or hostages, or simple props. Falluja will be the same way. If the occupiers ever decide to leave, that will be their last chance to use those props the usual way - to demonize their enemies and fan the flames of yet more sectarian conflict towards its apocalyptic end.

However, a flurry of misdirection has left the public ready to absolve Daesh if they try for anything like the Daraya scenario, and to blame Iraq's equivalent of the reviled "Shabiha.".

Whose Fake, and Whose Carte Blanche?
The contested ISIS orders purport to be genuine, and might well look that way on first pass, but the contrary clues in the header and the text should have been noticed almost as quickly by any real analyst. Yet, one is to believe, they were missed and the US was caught unwittingly passing on a fake document. If it was handed in, I'm not buying the acceptance was unwitting.

Then it's possible the US, some agency or ally, faked it themselves and goofed up. But I also doubt that, and suspect the errors were on purpose, to let the public and experts expose the military fraud... That's one way to sow an idea, while letting people think they're forming it themselves.

At Moon of Alabama, "b" didn't suggest where the document originated, but emphasized the US military circulating it as credible, and pointing out how this was helping Daesh boost its image.
This, in effect, will make the Islamic State look better than it is. ... One would think that the behavior the Islamic State displays in its own propaganda videos is argument enough to condemn it. By using obviously fake IS documents to condemn the Islamic State the U.S. military creates the opposite effect. That the U.S. needs fake evidence to let the Islamic State look bad actually makes it look better than it is. This not only in the eyes of its followers.
This is true, but the flip side is perhaps more troubling - it makes ISIS' enemies look exceedingly bad, roughly Daesh-grade evil. It also makes them look like stupid bunglers. As I first put it in a comment there: "This is a spooky move. Who faked this doc and why? The implication seems clear to me - we're supposed to presume IAF/Shia militias faked this, presumably to explain the massacres they have planned, and just goofed up with an "obvious" fake. ... ISIS will feel emboldened to go ahead and committ [sic] false-flag massacres on their way out, now that the blame is "obvious." More stabbing Iraq in the back, whoever drafted it."

The same implication seems to be coming through. One response to Warren's tweet: "No, these documents are fake. More U.S. military propaganda to cover up murderous abuses against Sunnis by #Iraq's Shiite militias." That comment got 24 retweets 27 likes before I saw it, so it's a widespread feeling.

There have long been allegations of sectarian Shi'ite death squads in Iraq from 2003 and forward, who do terrible things to Sunnis and sometimes their own, with the blamed groups denying the claims but Western media and most observers accepting them. These stories are easily accepted by anti-imperialist thinkers as these militias are supposedly backed by the United States to keep down Iraq's Sunnis. I'm not an expert in the area, but skeptical of all of it, after seeing what national forces, Sect-based or not, have been framed for in Syria while fighting the same kind of deceptive Sunni extremists (the mythical "Shabiha" massacres, etc.) I know less about Iraq with a higher percentage of Shia more linked to Iran, so it's entirely possible some or many of these crimes are real. But still I remain skeptical until I've looked closer.

The suggestion here is these same type of militias faked this pamphlet, duped the Americans with it, and now should pay a price for that. Because the allegation is heavy, even if it's leaped to lightly; they plan to commit the horrible crimes listed above, on a sectarian basis, and really felt this time the media would believe them and not the Sunni accusers they've believed before. And then, they tried for this with the easily-exposed fake we see.

Guess what? That's another suggestion I'm not buying.
Here are the 6 main possibilities for this scrap of paper:
1) Iraqi forces fake to explain massacres they intend to carry out and blame Daesh, but goofed up
2) Iraqi fake to explain false-flag Daesh massacres they suspect will happen, but goofed up
3) Somehow a real Islamic State document, despite apparent discrepancies
4) A real ISIS document made poorly to suggest option 1 and discredit IAF and/or explain their own planned crimes
5) US/CIA/allied fake to simply make Daesh look bad, but goofed up
6) US/CIA/allied fake to suggest option 1 and discredit IAF and/or help cover for predicted Daesh crimes, and/or to help sow the emerging narrative of "our problematic Shi'ite allies," to provide the moral pretext to turn on them once their usefulness is outlived.

That last option has no obvious motive to most people, but there often seems to be a pattern of the U.S. and its allies subverting Iraq as it becomes aligned with Iran and/or Syria, pretending to help but stabbing them in the back, bombing their forces and Iranian allies a suspicious number of times, etc. Note the Western powers decided to throw Iraq and Syria both under the bus as they watched their own allies build the ISIS menace (see here, 2012 DIA documents). And the West blamed supposed anti-Sunni policies in both countries for spawning the problem, as they set to take advantage by carving territory from both countries (it's an open policy that if Daesh takes land, the dictator in Damascus doesn't get it back, and the Iranian pawns in Baghdad might permanently lose their land too, for an envisioned new Sunni state, sort of a Turkish-Saudi-sponsored Israel for them....).

Anyway, here's what Washington's experts say about the implicated Shia fighters, who are to some minds detestable US proxies (Business Insider):
Michael Pregent, a former US Army intelligence officer who served as an embedded military adviser in Iraq, told Business Insider that he thought the document could be a Shia militia forgery.
Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland who is a leading expert on Shia militias, also told Business Insider he had doubts about the document's authenticity. "Essentially, [the pamphlet] gives a sort of carte blanche for sectarian Shia militias to continue engaging in vicious activities and also gives cover to Iran's activities with those groups in Iraq (given they back a large number of the groups participating in the Fallujah offensive)," Smyth said.

Now back to the first claims by col. Warren, “Clearly, this isn't the behavior of a legitimate government or of a legitimate military force, it's the behavior of thugs, it's the behavior of killers and it's the behavior of terrorists." (The Hill) Well, the reading now - which he probably predicted - is the document shows the real, planned behavior of Iraqi armed forces. They think like thugs, not like a legitimate government. That's a problem to come back to, huh?

Warren said the order was aimed to discredit the Iraqi security forces and its national government, and that part is probably true. So who decided on that? Was it really just genocidal Shi'ite goof-ups? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome. Stay civil and on or near-topic. If you're at all stumped about how to comment, please see this post.